Houses, Health Care and the Word of the Week…Mystifying.

I think I have four good reasons why I’ve been a little quiet on my blog this week:

  1. I’ve gained five pounds, and I’m annoyed at myself.  Hard to talk about my big life changes when I seem to have lost all enthusiasm.  I’m pretty sure it’s just all salt bloat, but I still feel gross.  I’m not excited to cook anything.
  2. The Dallas housing market is a beat down.  Seriously.  All I do is look at houses, make offers on houses, get rejected.  Rinse.  Repeat.
  3. No new health news, but my rounds of specialists gets kicked off this week.  First up?  Gastroenterologist.  I’ve been a projectile vomiter since I was an infant…let’s find out why!
  4. Quilting.  I haven’t done enough quilting.  Loved going to the Dallas Quilt Show Sunday, though.  So fun!  I pity the fool that didn’t get to see Mr. T in person:

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You know what’s not fun?  Getting shut down on a super kickass house that you’re in love with, despite offering $16k over asking, agreeing to a 60 day lease-back, not asking for a damn thing and having financing approval.  Not just pre-approval, but actual approval.  I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to buy a house in this stupid market, but gift cards and letters of thanks will certainly be due to the two lenders I’m working with, not to mention my super amazing realtor.  Love you, Betsy!!  (Hanne too, I’m sure, once I meet her 🙂 )

So I woke up kind of ugly today, these things happen to the best of us.  I get some work done, I check my email every ten seconds like a crazy person to see if we’ve heard back on the offer, I eat healthy things full of too much salt, I check my email again.  How is the ugliness supposed to improve under these circumstances?

No house, and even my realtor is “mystified.”  Gosh that’s a great word.  I’m going to use it to describe everything going on with me right now, like dating in Dallas, buying houses in Dallas, dealing with my unknown health BS and why my scale isn’t nicer to me.  MYSTIFYING.

Know what else is mystifying?  How health insurance works.  Remember when I had nine vials of blood drawn last month?  My first bill said I owed nothing – AWESOME!  Red herring, though, because I got a new bill today for $600.  That’s right, there are two zeros.  TWO.  $600 is a big chunk out of my couch fund.  Fortunately my current living room furniture still looks good, because even though I’m sick of it and ready to move on, my finances might require me to drag it out a bit.  Sea foam for a whole decade, y’all!

Anyhoot, I’m a little scared of these specialists for a whole new reason now.  $600 out of pocket for the lab tests my regular doctor had me do…what fresh hell will be unleashed with a specialist?  I already know I have to get a scope done, so I guess that’ll just push me up to my deductible.  Good grief.  And I get an extra scoop of guilt because now that I’m aligned with the health care industry, I’m also part of the problem.  Our government is a shit show, so I see why socialized medicine is unpopular, but good grief.

See where my head is spinning right now?  I’m spinning, I’m stressed out, therefore I’m not being as careful with food so I feel like crap AND I gain weight.  At least I’m not drowning my sorrows in vodka, so I’ll take that as a win.  The human body is a mystifying thing, my friends.

Hopefully I’ll have some good news from the gastroenterologist on Wednesday.  And maybe a new house will pop up.  Have I mentioned none of the good ones last longer than 24 hours on the market?  Sheesh.

Cheers!

Just a Casual Monday Night Dinner

I think I’ve mentioned I’m the weirdo who works out while staring at the Food Network.  It’s a double whammy, right? Not only can I probably not eat 90% of the recipes shown, but I’m the only overweight person at my pretty person gym. Whatevs. I’ve got my playlist bumping and the Pioneer Woman is cooking up some beef and a cake.  There’s only so much news and Sportscenter a girl can watch. 

This past week, I ended up watching Guy’s Big Bites, and he whipped up this delicious scallop and andouille sausage dinner. I’ve been craving scallops ever since. So yummy! 

I didn’t end up making that recipe, but I did wander into Whole Foods on Saturday, high noon, a wee bit hungover and starving after 18 hours without food. First of all, oops. Secondly, I’m normally prepared with at least some raw almonds, but I got caught off guard. What do you get when you wander into Whole Foods in these conditions? 

Two bags of random food and a much lighter wallet :



Let me be honest here. I’m a big Whole Foods fan, and I’ve shopped there very economically. This is done by checking out their sales flyer and building my meal plans accordingly. Steak on sale? Great. Do it. Buy the fruits and veggies featured, since they’re normally in season and at a great price. I got amazing organic apples for $1.30 a pound this week and omg they are insanely good. 

I also bought pre-made Cajun crab cakes and a third pound of giant scallops, along with some vegan chocolate treats, the Enjoy Life Chocolare Chunks for when I finally make those damn chocolate chip cookies, and a bunch of other stuff. Can I just blame the bagger for packing so efficiently? He was a gem. 

The weekend ended up being too busy for cooking, so I have had the best Monday night dinner ever. 

I left work a bit early to avoid a repeat of Friday’s near two hour commute home, but mostly so I could hit the gym. I parked my pink clad behind in front of HGTV and The Pioneer Woman (treat. yo. self.) and planned out my dinner.  And can I also mention how much I love the scenic hikes available on treadmills these days? I select my speed and average incline and they do the rest. I’m obsessed and wish my time on the elliptical was so fun. 

Back at home, I wasn’t sure how long to cook the crab cakes, but it turns out a sear on each side in my cast iron skillet then oven finishing at 350 did the trick! 



For the scallops, I followed Guy’s guidance, so even though I couldn’t cook them in adouille sausage fat, I patted them dry as can be, seasoned and plunked them into my buttery spread-filled pan. 



Look at that sear! So crisp and delicious. Two minutes each side and they are perfect. 

I also tossed up a super sprout salad (thanks Whole Foods) and I have a very happy belly. Lunch for tomorrow, too, because there’s no way to physically eat two crab cakes. They’re six ounces each and woo. I’m stuffed. 



The white sauce is a jalapeño and horseradish tartar. The crab cake was so tasty I barely touched it, but it was definitely delicious.  I’m pretty sure it’s the gluten, and next time I should probably make my own gluten free version. My cheeks are already flush. 

Now where is that magical elf to wash my dishes?  Please?  Sigh. 



More Adventures in Cooking

Okay everyone, I’ve been slacking in the cooking department.  Bad, bad, Christina.  One of the terrible and awesome things about Trader Joe’s is all of the semi-homemade cooking it allows me to do, because who doesn’t like an extra serving of salt bloat?.  I’m still journaling every meal with MyNetDiary, and every day I get a little chiding for going over the recommended sodium levels.  Oops.  Hypertension is one of the 12 million health issues I DON’T have, but no one likes to feel like a water retaining sea cow, am I right?

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I’m determined to do better, though, and I’m excited to actually maybe bake a little this weekend.  I’ve been jonesing for the amazing chocolate chip cookies Mom created over Christmas, so while it’s not going to help me reduce the size of my ass, it’s probably the only thing to get me excited about being in the kitchen.

I did manage a couple things this week aside from my standard lazy meal of shredded chicken and black beans.  If you haven’t had the joy of shredded chicken, you absolutely should make it.  Dump chicken (frozen or fresh) into a crockpot, add a can of rotel for every pound of chicken and top it off with taco seasoning.  This time around I also dumped in some verde sauce, because tomatillos are delicious and I was short on rotel.  Set it to go on low overnight if you started with frozen chicken, and it will have practically shredded itself by the time you wake up.  A fork will finish it out, give it a stir, and you’ve got something easy and yummy 🙂

It’s good stuffed into a tortilla with cheese, lettuce and normal taco fixings, but it’s also good by itself.  I’ve been all over Trader Joe’s Organic Refried Black Beans with Jalapenos lately, so that’s how I’ve eaten it every day this week for lunch.  I miss tortillas and cheese sometimes, but avocado almost makes up for it.  Next time I make it, I’ll document with pics.  Promise.

So that’s the first thing I made.  Second up is a version of the Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai that Gluten Free Jess posted on her site.  Trader Joe’s didn’t have spaghetti squash, so I subbed in rice noodles, essentially just making Gluten Free Pad Thai.  All the delicious fattiness, none of the extra health benefits.  Look at her blog and pretend those are my pics instead of these half-ass, last minute snaps.  I couldn’t find fish sauce, either, so I subbed in a bit of Coconut Secret Soy Free Seasoning sauce, which is essentially just soy sauce for those of us that can’t actually eat anything.  

I busted out a knife and actually chopped green onions, cilantro and chicken!  I had to show proof of knife skills, limited though they are.  Once I got everything blended with the sauce, and added a ton of lime juice and cilantro, I had a big bowl of comfort food.  Rice noodles get insanely sticky, at least mine did, so I’m looking forward to trying it with either zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.  Yum.

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Yesterday was yet another snow day for Dallas, and I was thankful to have everything I needed to make chicken noodle soup.  Browned mirepoix with hot pepper olive oil, added broth, diced chicken, spices and rotel (live and die by it, seriously) and added the Trader Joe’s Brown Rice and Quinoa pasta.  It holds up so well and is the perfect gluten free noodle to use in sauces and soups.

Check, check, check!  This weekend I’ll knock out some zucchini noodle recipes and bake my cookies, and this time I’ll actually take some pics 🙂  How will I ever get a show on the Food Network like the Pioneer woman if I don’t document?  Surely the cookies have a better nutritional value than these Skittles I’ve been chomping on all week, too.  Damn you, Easter candy.

Cheers!

 

 

Reality Checks

Ah, weekends. I had a great one, even with big old reality checks, level sets, priority checks and a boatload of sleet. Dallas, stop it. I’m being serious.

Remember when the fat envelope was a good thing? I was finally willing to walk down to the  freezing cold mail room to catch a few days of pile-up, and I had two big old envelopes from UT Southwestern. I assume kids today get an email or tweet or some other digital bullshit when they’re accepted to college, but we always looked for the fat envelopes. Skinny was a wait list or rejection for sure.

Well, these fat envelopes aren’t cool. Here’s my first reality check – the hematologist is at the oncology clinic.  Harold C. Simmons Cancer Clinic, to be exact. God that header is big.  HUGE!   I know cancer is a slim possibility with all this mess I have going on, but it’s still there. It’s almost like this letter is telling me, “Hey girl.  You probably do have Lupus. But at least it’s not cancer! Buck up, buttercup.”

And let’s be honest – we’re all hoping I’m in the 15% that have bad labs but nothing is wrong. Not having any reason my numbers are off is scary in its own way, because then there’s no treatment and all of the risk is still there, but I’ll deal with that when I have to deal with it. Inflammation is not a nice thing to have in your body, but again, it’s not cancer.  Even just thinking the word reminds me of the person I was once close to that died a couple years ago, and my heart just skips a beat.

I’m pretty good at shoving emotions aside and just using my head and logic to work things out, but I slip sometimes. I’ve joked that I’m emotionally dead inside, and honestly, sometimes it’s the best way to deal. If it isn’t going to hurt anyone else, fake it ’til you make it.  I enjoy a winning strategy.  So I’ll whine and freak out on my little online journal, and maybe some more to my mom, and otherwise I’m going to pretend it’s not happening until I have to. Most of the time I’m totally fine.

Happy, even.  There’s so much good stuff in my life right now, and I just need to count my blessings.

The second envelope is for the “Digestive and Liver Diseases Clinic.” You’d think my liver would be the issue if you’ve spent any bar time with me (just kidding mom! I say these things for humor!) but my liver is a-okay 🙂 I’m not even sweating this one anymore, even if shoving a tube down my throat to see why I throw up so much will probably just make me throw up.  Good grief. Sorry for the overshare, but it really is ridiculous. I’ve been good the past couple weeks, but I’ve been soooo careful and haven’t had much of an appetite anyway. Guess it helps.

Speaking of no appetite, though, I’ve been taking little chances here and there with my diet while I’ve been out and about this weekend. I know my blood reacts to gluten, dairy, soy, etc., which is why I stopped eating it. But I had some cheese and a couple bites of pita Friday  night, and the world didn’t end. I had some naan with my chicken tikka tandoori and masala sauce last night, and the world didn’t end. It did knock me the hell out though, holy smokes.  I slept for over ten hours last night!

I haven’t been sleeping well from all this stress, I guess, but that did the trick. Too bad I can’t take bread instead of a Tylenol PM. Reality check number two – bread isn’t worth the belly bloat and skin breakouts. I could feel my cheeks start to flush. Definitely not something I’m going to make a habit of, so don’t worry Mom!  I’ll get back to always carrying beef jerky and almonds if I get stuck somewhere without food I can eat. Fortunately I can eat the masala sauce without naan next time I’m craving Indian 🙂

Reality check three – I can eat my average of 1600-1800 calories a day, but throwing bread in the mix will put a pound of fat back on my ass. I actually only averaged 1400 calories the last couple days, and I still feel like I’ll have gained five pounds when I weigh myself in the morning. And I know I should have eaten more, especially since I worked out, but when you’re not hungry you’re not hungry.  And having six hour quilt classes really keeps you distracted 🙂

So this is me, casually freaking out. I quilt, I have cider, I break all the rules for a couple pieces of cheese and some naan.

Did I mention this was a great weekend? So fun going out Friday night, sleeping in, taking my quilt class, catching up with an old friend over takeout and a mani pedi today. The only thing that would have made it better would have been some sun. Please come back, sun. I miss you.

Here’s the quilt top from Saturday’s class – super cute “Playful” layer cake by Cotton + Steel in a disappearing four patch quilt class taught by one of the gals in my paper piecing class. I was so excited, and this will be a great piece for me to learn how to quilt on a bigger piece! More classes to take 🙂

Laying out the nine blocks so I can evenly distribute the prints.

Finished product!

And I’m Instagram famous! Wish I had put some lips on 🙂

Cheer!

When It Rains, It Pours…the Results are In.

Seriously, Dallas.  Cut it out.  I think my friend Jamie put it together best – “Only in Texas can it rain, sleet, snow, and the sun shine all within 10 hours.”  The city was shut down for two days, snowed more this morning, and by the time I left the office I was practically sweating in the 55 degree sunshine.

I wish the insane weather was my only complaint, though.  Unfortunately, the pouring rain I’m talking about comes in the form of the rest of my test results – they came in yesterday morning, and I’ve given myself a day and a half to let it all sink in.  My ana (autoimmune screening) came back positive, so now my just in case trip to the hematologist for low platelet count has become a you are definitely going to a hematologist and likely following it up with trip to a rheumatologist too.  What???

What does this even mean?  Well, here’s what my doc had to say courtesy of the rheumatologic association:  “The immune system makes an abundance of proteins called antibodies. Antibodies are made by white blood cells and they recognize and combat infectious organisms in the body. Sometimes these antibodies make a mistake, identifying normal, naturally-occurring proteins in our bodies as being “foreign” and dangerous. The antibodies that target “normal” proteins within the nucleus of a cell are called antinuclear antibodies (ANA). ANAs could signal the body to begin attacking itself which can lead to autoimmune diseases, including lupus, scleroderma, Sjögren’s syndrome, polymyositis/ dermatomyositis, mixed connective tissue disease, drug-induced lupus, and autoimmune hepatitis.”  Cancer gets thrown into the mix too, but I think that’s a very, very low possibility.

I know that’s a lot of big words in there, but I’m thinking best case scenario, my low platelet count, insanely high inflammatory levels and positive ana all likely have something to do with each other, and at least a hematologist and/or rheumatologist will help me sort it out.  And there’s a 15% chance it’s not a damn thing at all, just my body being an asshole for asshole’s sake.  Wouldn’t surprise me.

I spent the weekend being annoyed that finally taking doctors and allergies seriously didn’t have the healing powers I thought they would, and now this is dumped on me too.  I’m fine, honestly, because there’s nothing to worry about until there’s something to worry about, but it’s unsettling.  And to make it worse, I can’t get into a hematologist until March 31st, which means I get to spend a whole month feeling unsettled and jittery.  And that, my friends, sucks.  I don’t do this unsettled thing gracefully.

On the bright side, surely if it was critical I wouldn’t have to wait that long for an appointment.

As I told my parents tonight, it’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden order a pizza with extra cheese and a beer, because going BACK to gluten, dairy, soy, etc. would just make everything worse.  And the gastroenterologist I get to see mid-March for completely different issues would likely agree.  A GI scope, SO FUN!  I’ve been burning off nervous energy at the gym this week too…thank goodness there’s one in my building since the streets were iced over.  I’m just feeling jittery and awkward and blah.  I haven’t had an appetite all week either so maybe I’ll at least get to drop a few more pounds. (Bright side, I’m looking for you.  Hard.)

I started a new quilting project to take my mind of things, and WOO I haven’t had to redo this many stitches since I first started sewing.  My focus is more than a little off, so I’ve had to rip out a lot of seams.  The worst part is that I’m doing paper piecing, which means the stitches are tiny tiny tiny.  Ugh.  That’s the biggest reason it’s taken me two whole evenings to do just one block.  It’s a great block, though, and I absolutely adore these fabrics.

Here’s what it looks like to rip out stitches out of a small block, followed by what it looks like to rip out stitches out of an almost completed block.  Whoops.

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Maybe by the time this sucker gets done, I’ll have a guest bedroom to feature it!  It won’t be at the cow house, since that’s long gone, but I’m sure something else with three bedrooms and a pool will head my way in the next couple months.

I think that wraps things up for me now.  My body hates me and is attacking itself, no cow house, work is absolutely bananas and Dallas weather is insane.  Goodness.  And I’ve got the attention span of a gnat right now to boot, which doesn’t help any of the above.  Ack.

Hopefully I’ll have a better attitude in the morning, or at least by the weekend 🙂

Cheers,

C

Food Hiding, Doctor Visits and Labwork

So it occurs to me as I sit in my truck and sip on my contraband iced Americano, I’ve mentally come a long way. I mean, instead of parking in a fast food lot of shoveling down a milkshake or crunch wrap supreme before someone can catch me, I’m sneaking a ten calorie coffee.

Btw, I had to google my usual thing for Taco Bell. And by usual, what I used to get pre-Seattle for the boozy fourth meal.  I couldn’t remember what it was called!  I’ve been there twice in the last four years, once on a drive to Boise Memorial Day weekend and another in Seattle when it just sounded good. I still love tacos, but I’ll likely never go to Taco Bell again because they have ZERO things I can eat. Even their plain tacos and “al fresca” items all have either gluten or soy. Insane.  Soy does NOT need to be in every little thing, America.

I digress, though. I’ve always been a food sneaker, a food hider. Calories don’t count if no one sees you, right? If you’ve ever seen me pig out, know that you’re probably one of my favorite people on the planet, because it’s taken me years to be comfortable eating around other people. YEARS.  And to be frank, I can’t remember the last time I binge-ate, other than a chip basket at a Mexican restaurant.  I do remember the last time I binge drank, though.  Don’t tell my mom.  Or my doctor.  Damn you, patio days.  Just kidding, I totally told my doctor and her nurse a real answer.  “Christina, how many alcohol beverages do you have a week?”  Me:  “Well, what’s the weather?  Was I sitting on a patio most of the day?”

So when I say I’ve come a long way, I mean it.  The only candy in my presence sits right on top of my desk at work – and I barely touch it.  It’s full of Jelly Bellys, and my co-workers grab them by the handful.  I don’t miss it, really.  The only thing I really seem to miss is cheese, and cheese isn’t something I ever stashed away.  Well, and the coffee, but I don’t think a cup of coffee, usually decaf, will get me if I do it 3-4 times a month.  Can I justify the occasional dairy splurge by saying I need the probiotics?  Guess not.

I mentioned last blog that I was excited to get labs done to test my progress, and I was able to get that completed this morning.  I established care with the fabulous Dr. Barreto, gave her the rundown of my intolerances, inflammation, low platelets, vomiting, etc.  I swear, when I’m giving my life story I feel like the biggest hypochondriac, but I guess labs don’t lie.  I AM anemic, I DO have cardiac risk thanks to my inflammation, I DO have a low platelet count and I DO throw up more than any human I know.

What does that net me?  Nine vials of blood.  Even the sweet lady taking it was like, whoa.  The labels just kept uncurling.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture!  Glad I wore a super cute sunny yellow jacket to keep me cheerful.  I got several compliments on both that jacket and my navy and silver polka dot overcoat this morning – yay!  That always puts a little spring in your step, right?

Anyway, here’s what I had done:

  • Comprehensive Metalobic Panel – I had this done in October with Seattle’s fabulous Dr. Brown, but I think she wants to see it all again.
  • Hemogram
  • H Pylori
  • C Reative Protein (Inflammation Marker)
  • ESR (For SLE Monitoring)
  • ANA (Antinuclear) abs
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate (Folic Acid) Serum – looks like the prenatals I take aren’t enough.  God bless any poor guy I date that looks in my medicine cabinet and thinks I’m trying to trick him into having a baby.  It’s for my  hair and the iron, buddy!  I swear!
  • Lipase Serum

Last but not least, a referral to a gastroenterologist.  Awesome.  Hey Mom?  Maybe we’ll finally get me a doctor who can figure it out and/or does more than shrug their shoulders and tells us to deal with it.  That’s an awesome thing to hear when you’re a child, btw.  It’s only taken 37 years 🙂  Looks like there’s a throat scope in my future.  That should be fun.

I’m also weening off the Wellbutrin and switching over to Paxil.  Dr. Baretta thinks it’s a better match for me since it also deals with anxiety and is gaining popularity for patients with IBS.  I don’t have that as far as I know (maybe these labs will show otherwise) but since my gut, intestines, etc. is so damn sensitive it really can’t hurt.  And my anxiety has been pretty bad lately.  Not panic attack bad, thankfully, but I could certainly be more chill.

She also tells me that losing around a pound a week on a 1600-1800 calorie a day diet is fine, and if I cut calories more I would have to do it under a doctor’s supervision and that I would want no part of it.  So I guess if I want to drop pounds faster, I’m just going to have to do that much more at the gym and also make sure the content of my calories is as healthy as can be.  No booze, less processed crap and more fruits and veggies.  Sigh.  Good thing I just gave up alcohol for Lent.

Thanks for reading through my overshare, friends.  Hopefully I’ll be posting positive lab results in the next few days!

Giving Up (More) for Lent

So, every year I give up something for Lent. I’m not Catholic, so maybe it’s a throwback to my Catholic school days. Mostly, I do it to curb some bad behavior. Or to get back on track 🙂

I got my Mardi Gras fun in this weekend, with no vodka soda left behind. I didn’t manage to get a pic with both my beads and my mask, but at least I made it home with both! Such a fabulous time at the Krewe de Roux ball. Plus, I got to wear sparkles.

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I have a few hours left of Fat Tuesday to decide, but I’m pretty sure I’m giving up booze again. Crazy in a year that I’ve already given up gluten, dairy, soy, wine (save a glass or two), coffee (mostly), beer, Mom’s pie, stuffing, blueberries, ginger, honey, etc. etc. etc.

Seriously, what’s left to give up? Why am I even considering this madness?

Well, here are the facts. Alcohol is a big fat inflammatory, and I’m really supposed to reduce my consumption. I’ve done a good job on that front since October, but fabulous Dallas patio weather has definitely increased my boozy treat time. Plus a super fun new drinking buddy. Bad, Christina.

Secondly, my weight loss has stalled. I’ve only lost about six pounds since Christmas, and that’s despite staying pretty steady at 1600-1800 calories a day. Sure, I have a desk job, but I should still be dropping at least a pound a week. Maybe even two. Especially since I’ve also stepped up my game at the gym.

I like what I see when I look in the mirror, certainly more than I have for the past couple of years, but there’s still a way to go before I feel back to myself. Good, bad, otherwise, I don’t feel like me. I don’t feel strong, and there are still days I don’t feel pretty. And that’s not a good way to be.

Besides, alcohol is a depressant, and combining this cold and nasty weather with booze just adds to the dreariness. My wise friend Erin told me back in college after a night of boozing, “Alcohol is a depressant, yo.” Words of wisdom. So when I’m trying to shake off the depression and shake off some pounds, the booze gotta go.

Crap, now I have Taylor Swift stuck in my head. “Shake it off! Shake it off!”

I will reserve the right to have bubbles for two occasions. The St. Patrick’s Day parade, if we go, and if I close on a house before April 5. My lease is up at the end of April, and I’ve been looking!

So here’s to the next 40 days and 40 nights. And mimosas on Easter Sunday. Perhaps a smaller sized Easter dress, too. That’s right – those are Easter eggs labeling the mixers. As God intended.

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